Social Work Degree

Social Work Courses in the USA

Introduction to studying social work in the USA

Studying a social work degree in the USA as an international student offers a comprehensive and rewarding educational experience, preparing individuals for impactful careers in the field of social services.

Typically spanning four years for a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree and an additional two years for a Master of Social Work (MSW), these programs cover various modules to develop theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Core modules often include social welfare policies, human behavior and development, research methods, and clinical practice. Students may also choose specialized electives in areas such as child welfare, healthcare social work, or school social work, tailoring their education to align with specific career goals.

Graduates of social work programs in the USA enjoy promising career prospects as the demand for qualified social workers continues to grow. With an MSW degree, graduates can pursue clinical roles, such as licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), providing therapy and counseling services.

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Types of Social Work Degrees

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) 

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is an undergraduate degree equipping students with a foundational understanding of social work principles, values, and skills. In BSW programs, students delve into coursework covering modules like human behavior, social policy, and research methods. This degree prepares graduates for entry-level positions in diverse social work settings, including child welfare, healthcare, and community organizations. Students often engage in field placements, gaining practical experience under supervision. This degree is an excellent starting point after schooling as it combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on training, enabling students to develop essential skills for effective social work practice.

Master of Social Work (MSW) 

The Master of Social Work (MSW) is an advanced degree that comprehensively explores social work theory, research, and practice. MSW students engage in coursework covering diverse topics such as human behavior and the social environment, research methods in social work, and child welfare and family services. They also undergo practical field education to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. The MSW degree equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary for positively impacting individuals and communities, emphasizing ethical practice and social justice.

PhD in Social Work

A PhD in Social Work is a research-intensive doctoral degree designed to equip individuals for impactful careers in academia, research, and policy analysis. This program involves an extensive commitment to independent research and culminates in completing a substantial dissertation. Students engage deeply with theoretical frameworks, advanced research methodologies, and critical analysis of social issues. Graduates of PhD programs contribute significantly to the field through scholarly research, publishing in academic journals, teaching at the university level, and influencing social policies. This degree is ideal for those passionate about advancing social work knowledge, fostering critical thinking, and shaping the profession's future. 


Scholarships for international students pursuing social work degrees in the USA vary across universities and organizations. Here are some USA scholarships for the social work domain for international students:

Scholarship Offered by Awarded value
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund Social and economic justice $15,000
National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarships Behavioral or social health-related research $20,000
Phi Alpha Honor Society Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarships Social work service and leadership $1,000, $2,000, $3000
Pilot International Scholarships Service-oriented fields $1,500

Jobs and Careers

A social work degree opens the door to diverse careers that involve helping individuals, families, and communities overcome challenges and improve their well-being. In a job in social work, students can enhance a wide range of skills and qualities essential for success in the field. These include strong verbal and written communication skills and the ability to listen to and empathize with clients actively. In addition to these foundational skills, social work students can develop specialized skills in case management, counseling, advocacy, and policy analysis.

Many social work graduates pursue careers in clinical social work, providing direct services to individuals, families, and groups. Clinical social workers may work in hospitals, mental health clinics, or private practices, offering therapy, counseling, and support to clients dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse, or various life challenges. Another common career path for social work graduates is in the field of medical social work. In healthcare settings such as hospitals or hospices, medical social workers assist patients and their families in coping with illness, navigating healthcare systems, and accessing necessary resources. They play a crucial role in addressing the psychosocial aspects of health and collaborating with other healthcare professionals to ensure holistic patient care.


Entry-level positions for individuals with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree typically range from $35,000 to $50,000 annually. These roles may include positions in child welfare agencies, community organizations, or social services agencies, where graduates work to support individuals and families in need.

Social workers with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree often have increased earning potential and can pursue more specialized roles. Clinical social workers, for example, may earn salaries of $50,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on their experience level and geographic area. Social workers in healthcare settings, such as hospitals or mental health clinics, may also see higher salaries than those in other fields.

Top Universities for Social Work in the USA

To learn more about the best social work courses in the USA, find details on the top-ranking universities in the US News & World Report Rankings by Subject 2023 below:

  1. University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
  2. University of Chicago
  3. University of Washington
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. Columbia University
  6. University of California--Berkeley
  7. University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill
  8. University of Texas--Austin
  9. Case Western Reserve University
  10. University of California--Los Angeles

Study Social Work in the USA

If you want to learn more about studying for a social work degree at a US university, arrange a free consultation with SI-USA today.

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What are the admission requirements for social work courses in the USA?

Admission requirements typically include a bachelor's degree, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and relevant experience or coursework in social sciences.

What is the typical duration of a social work course in the USA?

A specific duration for a social work course in the USA ranges from 4 years for a Bachelor's to 2-3 years for a Master's degree.

What is the cost of studying social work in the USA for international students?

Prices for international students studying social work in the USA vary widely, from $10,000 to $50,000 per year, accounting for tuition, living expenses, and other fees.

What career prospects are available after completing a social work degree?

Career prospects after completing social work studies in the USA include roles as clinical social workers, case managers, school social workers, policy analysts, and community organizers, among others.

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